Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by Eric Generic, Dec 8, 2018.
No Number One for:
West End Girls
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
I'd have wagered 'West end girls' would have been right up your street!
I bet 'Love comes quickly' did better!
It was! But a mixture of a-ha and Stevie Nicks happening, plus the Record Mirror C60 cassette with Opportunities, diverted my attention!
It did. #2. PSB eventually get some #1s, but it takes time...
West End Girls also suffered from its ubiquity on Radio 1 and Capital....it got overplayed, and the climb to #1 in the UK took ages, so I'd kind of peaked in my admiration for it quite a while before it got anywhere near the top of the charts. Then RM put out the free C60 with a special mix of Opportunities, and I got hooked on that just as West End Girls was peaking in the UK.
Love obviously didn't come quickly!
All of their singles made my Top 5 until Was It Worth It....
Stripped = 11/10.
What a singularly epic record, and live it never ceases to be captivating.
That everything they then proceed to release for the next three albums is pure perfection is something to behold. For all of the artists I love, very few have that sort of run.
Yes, my fandom went up a notch or three with Stripped. I'd been buying the singles automatically, and the studio albums. Curiously I didn't get Singles 81>85 until the 90s! I suppose it seemed pointless when I had all the 1984-1985 stuff already.
The "101" live version of "Stripped" is amazing...!
It's based more on the incredible 12" mix than the single version, absolutely mighty!
1986 was slow to get going on action, thanks to a-ha staying #1 forever, but we have a huge turnover of chart toppers on the way....
Just around Christmas 1985, I think I saw a bird in the sky with Broken Wings. I wonder if it lost its battle to stay in the air, and lays on down the road that I must now travel...
Number ones: #65
MR. MISTER Kyrie (RCA)
Week Ending 15th March 1986
2 Weeks At #1
Despite – or perhaps because of – the new-found nightmare engulfing my life, the fascination with all things American continued to grow. Especially mainstream American culture, which was really all we were exposed to back in the Britain of the 1980s.
Best known for their staple of Drive Time compilations, Broken Wings, there was more to Mr. Mister than just that one song. Broken Wings was the track which became their biggest UK hit (making the Top 5 around the turn of 1985/86), and is a classy slice of moody AOR, but it was the follow-up which grabbed me the most and remains an all-time favourite.
The US Hot 100 being ahead of the UK in those days, Kyrie was already bounding up the American charts when Broken Wings was peaking over here, on its way to emulating the chart-topping feat of its predecessor. There was almost a Huey Lewis scenario of waiting for the single to eventually get its UK release, but RCA helpfully issued the Mr. Mister album – Welcome To The Real World – in early January 1986. I still bought the 7″ single when it came out six weeks later anyway!
Kyrie is probably the finest, purest example of why mid-80s AOR is such a wonderful thing. It’s anthemic without being overblown, musically it’s very muscular with massive, echo-laden drums and synths that Q Magazine could have described as “sounding as if they were fed raw meat”, while Richard Page’s vocals are a marvel of masculinity that combine sensitivity with strength and an ability to avoid cliche. The chorus, based on a latin hymn/poem “Kyrie Elaison” (Lord Have Mercy) is uplifting, insistent and impossible to dislodge from the brain once you hear it.
In some ways, I was surprised it only reached #11 in the UK. The album reached our Top 10 (and topped my own chart), and contained many more delights. Uniform Of Youth shared a similar musical vibe to Kyrie, while Run To Her was another Broken Wings in waiting, and the dramatic title cut might have been the best of all.
Mr. Mister may have had just the two modes best exemplified by the contrasting hit singles, but they excelled at both.
A familiar face returns....66 and all that...
Number ones: #66
HOWARD JONES No One Is To Blame (WEA)
Week Ending 29th March 1986
2 Weeks At #1
Ah, here he is again. It’s been a while!
The last time we encountered HoJo, it was early 1985 and the lead single from album #2 Dream Into Action was (just about) extending his then-unbroken run of #1 hits on my chart, dating back to the very first Top 40 I’d ever properly compiled in January 1984. Things Can Only Better would be followed by Look Mama (#5) and the annoying Life In One Day (#9). Neither single hung around on my charts either.
Shortly after Life In One Day‘s release came Live Aid, the event which scuppered the careers of many a Smash Hits favourite and many of Howard Jones’ peers, some with indecent and unwarranted haste, and ushered in the era of the Global Jukebox, whereupon any number of ageing rockstars and former pop idols were stuffed into leather jackets, or spandex trousers (sometimes both) and an array of garish shirts and tops, all in the name of staying relevant in the age of MTV.
(Actually, despite the car-crash visuals, a lot of the music was rather brilliant, but anyway we digress).
Perhaps mindful of this incoming change upon the horizon, HoJo took the opportunity at Live Aid to play up his serious-artist-at-piano image, and play down the jolly-hit-machine side, which allowed him to position himself as more of an equal and fellow musician to the then elder-statesmen of Rock and Pop. Like, say, Phil Collins, or Eric Clapton, or Mark Knopfler. Further concert appearances at the Prince’s Trust charity shows would help cement this impression, and – one supposes – help him transition from short-term Top 10 regular to a long-term album-oriented artist.
To this end, Hugh Padgham (Genesis producer) was subsequently brought in to re-record one of Dream Into Action‘s few genuine highlights, a pared-down ballad called No One Is To Blame. The song was good enough, and strong enough, to impress in its very sparse original album version, but Padgham’s sophisticated, commercial touch did bring an extra, and surprisingly effective, dimension to the track. The producer also brought in Genesis’ drummer and vocalist, a chap named Phil Collins. Who at the time was pretty much cleaning up in the American charts. The intention wasn’t hard to figure out.
It worked, too; the new No One Is To Blame hit the US Top 5 – by far his biggest hit on the Billboard charts to that point – and continued the generally upward trajectory his fortunes on that side of the pond had been taking.
The story over here in Britain, however, was a little trickier. Although the general reaction was positive, and the song had always been considered one of his best, sales of the single didn’t quite back up this enthusiasm. A #23 debut (pretty good for a song that was now over a year old, from an album that had long since disappeared from the chart) couldn’t translate into anything more than a #16 peak (his then-lowest in the UK). Dream Into Action would be repressed/reactivated with this 1986 version replacing the original, but it had no real commercial effect either.
As far as I was concerned, it helped get me back onside with HoJo and his music, reaffirming some of the reasons why he’d become such an important artist for me in my early years of pop discovery, and of course putting him back at #1 on my own Top 40 for a sixth time.
At least with the reworked version of ‘No-one’ it is a noticeably different take on the song, and not one of those ‘blink and miss it’ edits where an artist shaves 5 seconds of for the edit and adds one more drum beat...
It definitely felt like a last hurrah for HoJo though, at the time I didn’t know what he did after this.
It was his final UK Top 20 entry, so for the majority of people it was the last they heard of him. I thought he'd turned a corner, and possibly got back to doing music that was closer to the debut album, but the results of his next album were rather mixed.
Feeling a slight twang of guilt at forgetting this thread for a few days...
Number ones: #67
THE ART OF NOISE featuring DUANE EDDY Peter Gunn Theme (China)
Week Ending 12th April
1 Week At #1
There’s an excellent book by Simon Reynolds, “Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction To Its Own Past”, which analyses why instead of going forward, pop music (and its attendant media) never really escapes the grip of what has gone before.
It’s nothing new (excuse the pun), of course; the late 70s saw the rockabilly revival and 1978’s Summer Of Grease, as well as Darts, Showaddywaddy and even the likes of Queen indulging in some playful pastiche of their own with Crazy Little Thing Called Love. That particular obsession eventually petered out with The Stray Cats’ final UK hits and Roman Holliday’s brief run on the charts in 1983.
Most of 1984 and 1985, the first two years where my interest in pop music was intense enough to spawn these personal charts, felt like the chase was on for the new, to better create something fresh and not rely on familiar tropes and cliches. The nod to traditional songcraft remained, but nobody could say Thompson Twins, Howard Jones, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Duran Duran or Madonna were falling back on retro culture in their sound or outlook. (Wham! perhaps were, with their Motown-evoking hits from Make It Big, and the whole Matt Bianco/Carmel/Everything But The Girl/Working Week new-jazz scene, but there are always exceptions!).
1986 was the beginning of a new spate of retro; on the one hand the Levi 501 adverts were launching, soundtracked by classic soul/R&B nuggets from the 1960s (Wonderful World, I Heard It Through The Grapevine), the remix craze now focused on disco from exactly a decade earlier (Tavares, The Real Thing), and then you had the rise of Channel 4 with its brand new chat-show The Last Resort, which wore its retro stylings very proudly (a sort of Ronnie Scotts / Absolute Beginners / Sixities Kitsch hybrid fronted by a very youthful and nervous Jonathan Ross).
Add in some repeats of the original, iconic spy series such as The Avengers, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and – over on BBC2 – Mission:Impossible, and there was plenty on offer if the past was your thing, whether you were 45 or 15.
March 1986 also saw the long-awaited arrival of Julien Temple’s film adaptation of Absolute Beginners. This tapped into the same retro aesthetic, obviously, being set in the Notting Hill of 1958 with its vibrant jazz scene, racial tensions and the spectre of Tin Pan Alley. Colin MacInnes’ novel became essential reading over the Easter holidays that year, aided by the soundtrack (Sade, Bowie, Working Week and….erm, Eighth Wonder) but not helped quite so much by the disappointing film (one day I will watch it again, I have the Blu-Ray after all!).
Anyway, this is the climate in which The Art Of Noise, no longer safe in the bosom of ZTT and no longer including Trevor Horn or Paul Morley, took a break from inventing the future of music by teaming up with the King of Twang himself, Duane Eddy.
Marrying the sturm-und-drang of Close (To The Edit)‘s vehicle noises and sampled stabs of synth to Eddy’s deep gee-tar twanging proved an unlikely piece of genius. As the post for Eddy & The Soulband’s exhumation of The Theme From Shaft – a #1 for me almost exactly 12 months earlier – mentioned, I was definitely partial to this blend of the old and the new.
It sounded fresh at the time, and the 12″ extended mix is still huge fun.
Added two new write-ups to the blog yesterday (#77 and #78) so we can continue catching up....Hip Hip...hooray!
Number ones: #68
HIPSWAY The Honeythief (Mercury)
Week Ending 19th April 1986
2 Weeks At #1
Although my recent chart-toppers may not have reflected it, Record Mirror magazine continued to be a big part of my music-related world, and was still a source of influence and discovery, if not quite to the extent of 1984 and 1985.
RM (as it now branded itself) had undergone a major revamp in September 1985; it was literally bigger (in dimensions, depth and chart coverage) and to my mind, infinitely better. It didn’t last, sadly, but for a year or so it was absolutely essential reading and not just for the massive chart section with every kind of stat and slice of release information you could possibly want.
Stylish art-pop from North of the Border was one of RM’s particular cause celebres; during the period of late 1985 and 1986 this included bands such as The Big Supreme, Win and Hipsway. The latter were onto their third single, The Honeythief, before they clicked with me.
Previous 45s, The Broken Years and Ask The Lord, had somehow failed to inspire my adoration (despite The Broken Years featuring on RM’s seminal “RMC60: Spools Paradise” cassette that included a pre-fame Pet Shop Boys). The Honeythief proved to be their UK Top 40 breakthrough, and also their debut on my own chart.
It’s a big, bold, confident track. Lyrically it’s a mix of mystery, wordplay and nonsense, but the vocals from Graham “Skin” Skinner are a tour-de-force; rising and falling, stringing out the words to mirror the atmosphere they conjure up. The effect is the thing, not any earnest desire to convey everyday thoughts and feelings. The Honeythief is a completely stylised and stylish slice of confident pop, with a repeated instrumental break to take the breath away.
Curiously, the single also made the US Top 20 although I have no recollection of it happening; which is odd, given my interest in the Billboard Hot 100.
Got to keep the write-ups coming; it's a Question of not letting what I've built up crumble to dust....
Number ones: #69
DEPECHE MODE A Question Of Lust (Mute)
Week Ending 3rd May 1986
1 Week At #1
How much of a total Depeche Mode nut was I in 1986? The fact that this single, the second from Black Celebration, became the second from the album to top my chart probably says it all.
It’s far from their best (reflected in the below-par UK peak of #28), and was a rare case of A-side status being granted to a Martin L. Gore ballad. 1984’s Some Great Reward LP offered up the arresting Somebody, which shared billing with Blasphemous Rumours but ended up on the cutting-room floor when it came to the Singles 81>85 selections.
Emboldened by the reception afforded to Somebody, or simply chosen as a further act of defiance by the band, A Question Of Lust worked best as part of the album’s opening trilogy of songs alongside the title track and a monumental re-working of choice B-side Fly On The Windscreen (dubbed the “Final” mix).
Of all the Martin L. Gore ballads on Black Celebration (and boy, there were several), A Question Of Lust was easily the most superior, but should it have been a single? That’s one Question which we have never had the answer to.
PS1: My true feelings towards it were most tellingly reflected in the failure to purchase AQoL on any format, the first time I hadn’t bought a Depeche Mode single since People Are People (in the days when I bought very few singles at all).
PS2. Yes, this track was my 69th chart-topper. Ahem.
And my birth date is...6 9 69!
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